News of the WeekPhysics

Practical Tests for an 'Untestable' Theory of Everything?

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Science  07 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5378, pp. 758-759
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5378.758

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Physicists may soon have their first experimental evidence that string theory--a grand "theory of everything" that attempts to tie all the known forces together in a single framework--is more than just mathematics. String theory postulates a total of 10 dimensions, seven of which are assumed to be "compactified," that is, curled up on scales of just 10centimeters--so small as to be out of reach of any conceivable experiment. But now several groups are considering the possibility that a few of those dimensions could unravel a bit, opening up onto scales that precision measurements in accelerators or even on a bench top might actually probe. The work has drawn considerable interest at physics conferences over the last month.